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VCB eNews, Volume 12, #29 - Cyclists and the Law




Volume 12, #30: Cyclists and the Law
Shelley Porter, Editor



Editorial: Cyclists and the Law

Rides Captain’s Report

Active Transportation Week Announcement

Notices of Rides and Events – WoW, Bike Week, AHC 2015

Hone Your Skills

Loose Chain Links

Bike Buy and Sell

About That Funny


“Law cannot reach where enforcement will not follow.”

  • Aphorism quoted by Jack Vance





Nobody knew if it were true. It might have been a legend, or maybe an urban myth. But when I was in completing my bachelor’s degree at Acadia University, the rumour went around that a student was caught, charged, and made to pay a fine for exceeding the speed limit on a public road in Wolfville. On his bicycle! 

The Acadia University campus sprawls across the side of a hill, and some of the streets that exit onto Wolfville’s main street are very steep. Our cycling fellow had started above the town on Wolfville Ridge and allegedly descended at such a pace that when noticed by town police, he had exceeded the speed limit of 50 km/h. As with motor vehicles, in Nova Scotia bicyclists must respect the posted speed limit. 

 Regardless of your recorded rate of progress, as a cyclist you should be aware of a number of laws by which one must abide when operating a bicycle on Nova Scotia roadways. Some of them apply to all “vehicles” (and under Nova Scotia law, a bicycle is a vehicle), and some are specific to bicycles.

Attention to the regulations starts before you even swing a leg over the crossbar. Nova Scotia has a mandatory helmet law. This means you must wear a helmet- with the chin strap properly fastened - any time you are riding a bicycle in the province. There are exceptions, such as if wearing a helmet interferes with an essential religious practice or you are unable to wear a helmet for medical reasons. Before you start out on your ride, be sure you have a bell, horn, or other audible warning device on your bicycle. The law requires that it be used to give a warning when it is reasonably necessary to warn pedestrians and other road users of your approach. Nova Scotia requires that bicycles be equipped with reflectors and lights, principally if they are operated at night. It’s best to have a white one on front, and a red one on the back. 

Cyclists in Nova Scotia must stop at stop lights and signs, just as a motorist would. This means you, even if you are on pace to set a personal best for a 40 km ride. Not stopping for stop signs or lights is one of the biggest complaints that motorists have about cyclists. Cyclists in Nova Scotia must signal turns and lane changes by using hand signals. Respecting stop lights reassures other road users that you know the rules of the road; signalling our intentions is an essential communication with motorists that helps traffic flow smoothly as we adjust to one another’s trajectories in advance.

Cyclists in Nova Scotia must ride on the right hand side of the road. Been thinking it’s safer to ride facing traffic, like a pedestrian? Think again. Motorists do not expect to see cyclists coming toward them in their lane. At night, your front light may be distracting or even blinding to a motorist. And while I am talking about where to ride, be aware that it is illegal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk in Nova Scotia. You might feel safer on the sidewalk, but trust me, the pedestrians you are startling or on a collision course with do not. 

Cyclists in Nova Scotia must ride in single file when riding on a public roadway. Need some advice from your cycling friend, or to tell that juicy story about the mountain bike guy next door? Save it for the after-ride beer on the patio. Motorists have a hard enough time on our narrow roads passing one cyclist safely – two or more abreast is a recipe for disaster.

And speaking of that beer, definitely save it for after the ride: it is unlawful to operate a bicycle in Nova Scotia while impaired by alcohol or drugs. I am alarmed by the number of people with whom I speak who are not aware of this. Remember: a bicycle is legally a vehicle, just like a car.

If by chance while out riding on the right side of the road facing traffic, signalling your lane changes, and abiding by the rules of the road, you happen to be in a mishap caused by someone as yet unpracticed in the art of going with the traffic flow, be aware that cyclists must remain at or return to the scene of an accident in which they are involved, and render reasonable assistance to injured parties. 

Cyclists have some rights, too. You may ride as close as to the right as is safely practicable except when passing another vehicle or when turning left. Nova Scotia has a “1 metre rule”, wherein motorists must give cyclists at least 1 metre space between the vehicle and the cyclist when overtaking them. Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada with this type of legislation. As well, cyclists may pass on the right when it is safe to do so. That said, experts say passing on the right should be avoided due to the risk of being hit by right-turning or oncoming left-turning vehicles at intersections, being “doored”, or other safety issues. Lawyers know that what is legally “right” is not always morally right, and what you have the right to do is not always the safest thing to do. Or to repeat my father’s aphorism, “You don’t want to be dead right”. Right?

In Nova Scotia, cyclists are governed by the same rules as drivers of motor vehicles: same roads, same rights, same rules. The rules are there to keep all road users safe; they allow us to have a good idea of what will happen next in traffic as we proceed along our journeys. When there is a stop sign, everybody stops. When a driver or cyclist signals a lane change, everyone adjusts accordingly. Our behaviours are predictable. Being predictable is one of the ways you can stay safe as a cyclist sharing the road with motor vehicles. Nobody could have predicted that a cyclist would come down Gaspereau Avenue in Wolfville at 70 km/h. And rumour has it, he has the fine receipt to prove it.


Some American states have a “3 foot rule” for passing cyclists; the Nova Scotia version is the “1 metre” rule. (T. Swan, photo).





By the time you read this, the Ride of Silence will be over. I hope we had a good turnout. I am more contemplative this year, perhaps because the news today reported the death of B.B.King. He died in his sleep, at home, at the age of 89. The privilege of a peaceful death at an advanced age is something the fallen cyclists we commemorate won't have. Most of them were not famous and are missed only by close friends and family. But they are members of our family, the family of cyclists, and will have a place in our thoughts when we ride together to remember them. It could happen at any time, to any of us - in an argument with a car we lose, no matter how well we may follow the rules of the road.

Last year on my trip to New Orleans I visited the Metairie Cemetery and saw a striking statuette in one of the mausoleums. It was a portrayal of the Angel of Grief. It was carved by William Wetmore Story upon the death of his wife in the late 19th century. Quite by happenstance, I was in an antique shop later that same week and hanging on the wall was a photograph of that Angel. Immediately I knew it was one of those things I had to have. It just fit my suitcase, and is now on one of my walls. I don't believe in angels, or religion for that matter, but I know and understand those feelings of overwhelming grief and sadness the carving portrays. This week I am including a picture of the original carving and letting Mr.B.B.King sing us out with the song " you're gonna miss me"B.B.King














Don’t forget: the Women on Wheels rides start May 26th! Go to and click on the WoW logo for details.




Across the Highlands MTB Challenge Update:


Good day loyal AHC'ers.

This year's Across the Highlands MTB Challenge course is moving closer to the "mainland" (Cape Breton Island term to designate the rest of the province).  The 12th Edition in Mabou will make you experience some "altitude", not really into "thin air" but:  "challenging climbs" and "exhilarating descents", both terms which are the characteristics of AHC events especially carved for you all.  

We have been on sections of the trails on Saturday to find just pleasant surprises at every corner and on top of every climbs.  An amazing display of spring colours, postcard shots along a countless number of streams, small brooks and creeks, unforgettable sights in heights of the Georges Bay coastline.  All in all, a god blessed parcel of our planet earth.   Can't wait to see you all in your jersey colours mixing in this landscape.

A warm thank you to all those who have registered early.  AHC in now in your agenda and all what's left to do is follow your game plan.  For organizers this simple gesture makes a ton of difference in the planning and it is very much appreciated.  

As you know, for safety reasons and for the presentation of a high quality event, the number of participants is limited to 100.  That many participants were at the start of AHC '14 in Cheticamp last July.  And a challenge it was.  We've never seen such a fearless group of people young and younger at heart riding through town before heading up the hills and coming back with such a big smile from the experience.  Quite a memorable and emotional experience.  Seeing a marked increase in MTB'ing, no doubt a lot more new faces will be seen on the starting line this year and the maximum number will be attained soon.  

If these last few days of summer like weather is a prelude to the real summer weather, we're in for an outstanding one.

There are several small operators in Inverness county, search   

Also, Ceilidh Cottages & Campground is less than a kilometre from the West Mabou Hall, the headquarters for AHC '15.

Again, info & registration online at:    On reception of your registration, an email will confirm your participation and a numbered plaque will be reserved for your bike.   These who have already registered, you must have already received confirmation of registration and your plaque #.  

Talk to you soon!


(902) 562-8137





Bike Maintenance & Basic Repairs.  Tuesday, May 26th,  6 to 9pm

At Étoile de l’Acadie in Sydney.  

Personalized workshop limited to six participants.

Session content here.  Pre-registration required.



Cycling Instruction in Victoria County.  Weekend of June 6-7th

At Old Post Office in Baddeck.

Bike Maintenance & Basic Repairs, Saturday June 6, 1 - 4 pm

CAN-BIKE 1 - A 9-hr Defensive Cycling Course,   Saturday evening, Sunday am/pm.

Personalized instruction limited to six participants.

Session content here.  Pre-registration required.



CAN-BIKE 1 -  Weekend, June 12-13

At Étoile de l’Acadie in Sydney. 

A 9-hr Defensive Cycling Course,   Friday evening, Saturday am/pm.

Personalized instruction limited to six participants per instructor.

Session content here.  Pre-registration required.






Dude, seriously?:


More mtb:


Salt powered ebike:


Perhaps fitting they are being funded by a KICKstarter campaign:


Looks seriously awkward, but who knows:


Coffee and Bicycles:






FOR SALE: SPECIALIZED "SEQUOIA" Features - Made with Specialized A1 Premium Aluminum, the compact SEQUOIA frame is erogonomically designed for maximum comfort over the long haul. The ZERT inserts on the fork's Specialized FACT carbon legs absorb vibrations to keep you feeling fresh. The Specialized COMP handlebar is ergonomically shaped to form the perfect cradle for your hands. The SHAMANO 105 10 Speed STI break and shift leavers give you crisp shifts and effortless breaking. New road tires and tubes. Size Medium to Large ( I am 6 feet tall, 185 lbs and it was a great fit for me). 

I have maintenance and upgrade records form FRAMEWORK along with owner's manual. Original price was $999.99 plus tax. Myselling price is $600.00. Give me a call if interested in seeing this bike or if you would like to take it for a spin. 902-561-1965


FOR SALE: Crank Brothers premium eggbeater style cleats, never used, still in the box. $10. Contact


FOR SALE: Two mountain bikes, one Giant Rincon 6061 aluxx, frame size 14 in., $300; one Norco XFR, frame size 15, $300. Both about 4 years old, rarely used, stored inside. Will sell together for $500. Contact Heather at






Editor’s Note: I’ve never understood the acrimony toward lawyers, I even encouraged my son to become one (he has declined). They always seem like nice people to me, often with large student loans! Support your local lawyer!


From the Melbourne Lawyer’s Weekly:

A lawyer dies and goes to Heaven. "There must be some mistake," the lawyer argues. "I'm too young to die. I'm only 55." "Fifty-five?" says Saint Peter. "No, according to our calculations, you're 82." "How'd you get that?" the lawyer asks. Answers St. Peter, "We added up your time sheets."



As the lawyer awoke from surgery, he asked, "Why are all the blinds drawn?" The nurse answered, "There's a fire across the street, and we didn't want you to think you had died."



And elsewhere:

How many lawyer jokes are in existence?

Only three. All the rest are true stories.



What happens when a lawyer is made godfather? 
He makes you an offer you can't understand.



 If you see a lawyer on a bicycle, why don't you swerve to hit him?
A: It might be your bicycle.




Shelley Porter,  

Editor, Velo Cape Breton eNewsletter

VCB Cycling Ambassador.

May 21st, 2015





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